Sweating the ability to love and to be loved?

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, June 18, 2014

by Delores Manley

Even in our progressive, educated, knowledgeable and spiritual society, men and women alike contemplate, research, define, describe, redefine, love, and in some instances, almost simultaneously loathe one of man’s seemingly most basic needs: love.

Experientially in day-to-day relationships and vicariously through movies, music, videos, talk shows, sitcoms and other mediums of entertainment and communication, people crave, imagine, dream, anticipate and explore various love relationships. Per conversations at the playground, in the mall, on the job, among families, across the world of entertainment, on television, on the Internet, via social media, within the medical arena, inside government, around the sports world and throughout the universal church, people of various ages, socio-economic backgrounds and cultural, ethnic and religious descent seem to agree, in principle —at least superficially — that the world needs love.

On the one hand, they appear to desire love, believe in love and express love; however, based on their fear to give love, their reluctance to receive love and their tendency to excuse themselves from love relationships, they are obviously torn, fearful, doubtful, and in some cases, literally sweating the ability to love and to be loved.

In his third book, “The Inability to Love And Be Loved,” published in 2012 by Xlibris Corporation, Dr. Carl Sweat Jr., a pastor, a professor, a philosopher and a prose writer, in a balanced presentation, weighs in heavily on love, which is one of the most loved, hated, debated and likely one of the most misunderstood topics in all walks of life.

Approaching love from the alleged problem many potential lovers and the potentially loved view love to be, Sweat theoretically defines the problem, researches the problem and presents solutions to the problem.

This approach is pastorally dynamic in that he does not denounce those who believe that they do not have the propensity to love and be loved. Rather, from a distance he embraces them, shepherds them and encourages them by showing them that they are capable of overcoming fear, a tormenting and paralytic spirit that hinders them from seeking the love relationships they desire and from accepting the available love relationships they need.

Yet, he does not excuse the frantic ones who try to avoid their proverbially fearful wilderness experience. Moreover, he does not soften the impact of the journey or shorten the travel directions. What, then, does he do? Sweat helps them get back on course by pointing them to the first, the greatest, the purest, the eternal source and giver of love: the Almighty God. Directly addressing the perceived problem — the inability to love and be loved — Sweat offers a theological resolution to the problem in “Strategies for Loving,” p. 88, as cited below:

“People can take charge of their love inabilities and overcome relational difficulties when they gain a theological understanding of God’s archetypes and the role the image of God occupies in their lives. People can take control of their lives when they acquire a better theological definition of love and how to love God, themselves and others unconditionally.”

Simply stated, Sweat not only guides the fearful out of their wilderness experience, but also he envisions them in the driver’s seat navigating their way to the freedom to love and to be loved using a GPS — a God Positioning System — that is perfect in discernment, knowledge, wisdom and love.

In addition to identifying and remedying the problem theologically, Sweat intrigues the world of academia with his balanced approach to identifying the problem, defining the problem and solving the problem by providing mythological, historical, psychological and scientific perspectives based on prehistoric, historic and post-historic eras. Delving into a plethora of research, Sweat investigates definitions, types, aspects and barriers to love; he traces historical influences, and he purports that God is the essence of love and intimacy with God births the ability and the will to love ourselves, to love others and to receive love.

Coupled with Sweat’s academic and intellectual approach to the topic, another strength is his use of a format that is basic yet provocative and conducive to learning. For instance, he includes “A Time of Reflection” and “Let’s Talk About Love,” two interactive sections that compel readers to examine, describe and value themselves.

A third notable area of academic integrity is the emergence of the professor and philosopher, Sweat, who through practical reasoning, challenges the readers to establish a relationship, some interaction and fellowship with him as he invites them to allow their thoughts to meet with his, allows their humanity to identify with his, and encourages their spirituality to align with his. Both professor and philosopher signal the readers that all humanity who desires to love and be loved must form and nurture a relationship with God.

Finally, the prose writer does an excellent job in professionally formatting and structuring the book, along with tapping into perhaps the most fascinating subject of all times: love in the natural and supernatural realms. He confronts one of man’s basic problems: the mental, emotional and even spiritual strongholds that suggest, “No one truly loves me. I am afraid to love others for fear of being hurt. Love, to me, and for me, is impossible.”

Confidently, however, the writer presupposes, suggests and plants seeds into the readers’ minds and hearts. I concur that even in their embryonic stage, if attended to properly, the seeds have the inherent capacity to reproduce love for ourselves, love for others and the ability to receive love from others as well.

Throughout the book, the author demonstrates biblical, professional, academic and philosophical patience in encouraging, coaching, instructing and writing. At the same time, the author exemplifies discipline in maintaining his view, his perspective, and yes, his argument that people do not have to tolerate isolated, lonely and loveless lifestyles. Sweat advocates, and I agree that people simply need to submit to the answer that can solve the woes of the married and the unmarried.

That answer is people who want to escape the bondages of fear, doubt and distrust in their ability to love and be loved can overcome if they surrender their hearts, minds, emotions, and will to the Creator of mankind, the Creator of love, and the epitome of love: God.

Stop sweating the ability to love and be loved.

Sweat will be the guest lecturer on Thursday, June 19, for the City-Wide Revival sponsored by the Franklin and Vicinity Ministers’ Alliance at 7 p.m., and hosted at First Baptist Church, Hall Street, Franklin.

He has been married to Mrs. Janice Hicks Sweat for 27 years. They are the proud parents of Carl III and April and the gloating grandparents of Damias and Kennedy and are greatly anticipating the new bundle of joy in July.

Sweat has been the pastor of Laurel Hill United Church of Christ for over 14 years, and he is the president of the Holland Ministerial Alliance.

Sweat is the director of Paul D. Camp Community College, Smithfield. He is also the chairman of religious studies and coordinator of practical reasoning.

He is the recipient of a Bachelor of Arts in sociology with a minor in urban affairs from Virginia Union University, a Master of Science from Central Michigan, a Master of Divinity with a concentration in psychology from Providence Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry with a concentration in philosophy from Providence Theological Seminary.

Sweat enjoys writing and is also the author of “Why Are Women In The Ministry,” “A Cry for Ethical and Moral Strength” and “Race, Color and Religion Matter.”

REV. DELORES MANLEY has a B.S. in English, an M.R.E. and an M. Ed. She is the assistant pastor at Piney Grove Baptist Church, Franklin; Adjunct Faculty, Paul D. Camp Community College, Franklin; Adjunct Faculty, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology’s Evans-Smith Lifelong Learning Program, Franklin.